Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday signed a bill recognizing two separatist republics in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region and announced he would send troops to support it, Le Monde was the focus of Tuesday’s report.
After months of diplomatic tensions, Russian President Vladimir Putin chose to attack, ending the diplomatic process started by the Minsk agreement eight years ago.
Le Monde also published an editorial on the Ukraine crisis on Tuesday. A related editorial article said that following Putin’s announcement on Monday, Feb. 21, that he recognized the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk republics, Westerners must respond decisively with aggressive sanctions against Russian authorities.
The related editorial article states that there is a fundamental principle of international law, which is territorial integrity and political independence. This basic principle is endorsed by all signatories to the UN Charter, including Russia, one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. But on Monday, February 21, under the orders of its President Vladimir Putin, Russia publicly violated the principle for the second time in eight years, sending troops to occupy parts of Ukraine.
The first intervention in March 2014 resulted in the complete annexation of Crimea. This second, which happened just this past Monday, followed a different procedure: the leaders of two regions of the Donbass, the self-proclaimed Donetsk Republic created in 2014 by pro-Russian separatists and the Luhansk Republic demanded that Russia recognize their independence. That request was met on Monday. They were transported to Moscow, where they signed a “friendship and support” agreement between their “republic” and Russia with President Putin in the Kremlin. The agreement opened a legal path for Russia to send troops, and the Kremlin immediately decided to send troops under the pretext of “keeping the peace.”
Putin’s decision on Monday followed other events that day that shed light on the Kremlin’s operations and motives. The first was a meeting of the Security Council, during which several senior officials, horrified and sometimes stammering in the face of President Putin’s smirk, suggested Putin recognize the two republics in the Donbass. The icy meeting scene, televised on television, is reminiscent of the darkest moments of Soviet times. In this televised meeting, it can be heard that Ukraine is preparing to become a nuclear power, it is carrying out a “genocide” in the Donbass, and it has no intention of implementing the Minsk agreement to resolve the conflict, like supporting Minsk The agreement is the same for France and Germany.
As a result, Putin echoed the same argument and announced his decision in a speech that followed for nearly an hour. An editorial in Le Monde said it was 55 minutes of brazenness and falsification of history, a string of grievances, fantasies and false accusations against the authorities in Kiev and against the West.
The related editorial also said Putin’s behavior on Monday, like his recent meetings with several Western leaders, including President Macron, could cast doubt on the soundness of his reasoning. But the truth is: Putin is the absolute master of the Kremlin, and he has just made the decision to invade a sovereign country. This is the second time for Ukraine and the third time for the former Soviet republics seeking access to NATO and the European Union. Russian forces have occupied Georgia’s Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions since 2008.
The editorial of Le Monde also said that this is a direct question of the existing order in Europe since the end of the Cold War, posing a major challenge to Western countries and the international community. The United States and European countries, eager to avoid a more serious offensive by Moscow, were moving toward a “proportionate” response on Monday night, deciding to impose targeted sanctions. The U.S. and European countries are still counting on the deterrent effect of “massive” sanctions that would kick in in the event of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The editorial also pointed out that the United States and European countries are willing to believe that since Russia has actually had troops in the Donbass since 2014, it is not technically an invasion yet. But this response is disproportionate to the aggression committed by Russia, it legitimized the 2014 intervention, and it failed to take into account the Russian president’s deep ambition: Putin to redefine the power of the European continent by his own standards Scope. Experience has shown that he will not stop at the fragile borders of the two small republics unless he hits a wall with the firmness of the Westerners. Tougher sanctions need to be imposed immediately.